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By Alexander Francis Chamberlain, Ph.D., Assistant Prof essor 
of Anthropology, Clark University, Worcester, Mass. 

That the black man should have contributed in the slight- 
est to the common fund of our human civilization is a thought 
quite foreign to the minds of some Americans afflicted with 
acute Anglosaxonism and Negrophobia. No amount of 
evidence would e.g., convince Mr. Thomas Dixon, Mr. 
Thomas Watson, or Professor W. B. Smith, that the Negro 
has done anything decidedly and recognizably human dur- 
ing the long millenniums of his existence as a race. That 
the world must be "white," by hook or by crook, is their 
motto, and they seek to persuade themselves that it has 
always been so. Surely no one, except him in whose veins 
still runs somewhat riotously the blood of the old task- 
master of the slave, or one whose myopic view of the facts of 
science permits him to set up a mere social prejudice, and 
that, too, of very recent origin, against world-truths, which 
it is entirely beyond the power of any race or people, not 
to say a section of one, to alter or to destroy, can speak or 
write in such terms. Only individuals immune to the teach- 
ings of evolution could imagine that a race, millenniums 
old, and numbering to-day after centuries of more or less 
brutal contact with the whites, more than 150,000,000, 
could have existed or could continue to exist, without in 
the slightest influencing the currents of human thought 
and action. It is with eyes blind to the results of the most 
recent investigations of the origki and the development of 
Negro culture in Africa, and to the achievements of the 
race in other parts of the globe that such people content 



themselves with repeating words of prejudiced origin, 
which have long since lost significance, and with seeing in 
the Negro only a beast or a half-man. There are various 
ways of estimating or judging the capacities of a race for 
progress and its contributions to our human civilization. 
Here we shall content ourselves with three, viz., (1) the 
appearance of individual Negroes, or of individuals with 
admittedly Negro hlood, from tims to time, in the midst of 
cultures not of native African origin; (2) the debt of man- 
kind to the Negroes in the matter of industry, inventions, art, 
etc., in the achievements of the Black Race as such in the 
various branches of human civilization; (3) the achievements 
of Negroes removed from their home-land in childhood and 
educated under European auspices, etc. Under each of these 
three heads there is now a considerable amount of data 
available which can be but briefly set forth here. 


The contributions of the Negro to human civilization 
are innumerable and immemorial. Let us first get some 
glimpses of him, chiefly as an individual, in contact with 
the past of other cultures than his own. Ancient Egypt 
knew him, both bond and free, and his blood flowed in the 
veins of not a few of the mighty Pharaohs, Nefertari, the 
famous Queen of Aahmes, the King of Egypt, who drove the 
Hyksos from the land and founded the 18th Dynasty (ca. 
1700 B. C), was a Negress of great beauty, strong person- 
ality, and remarkable administrative ability. She was for 
years associated in the government with her son, Amen- 
hotep I, who succeeded his father. Queen Nefertari was 
highly venerated and many moniunents were erected in her 
honor; she was venerated as "ancestress and founder of 
the 18th Dynasty" and styled "the wife of the god 
Ammon," etc. Another strain of Negro blood came into 
the line of the Pharaohs with Mut-em-ua, wife of Thothmes 
IV, whose son, Amen-hotep III, had a negroid physiog- 
nomy. Amen-hotep III was famous as a builder and his 
reign {ca. 1400 B. C.) is distinguished by a marked improve- 


ment in Egyptian art and architecture. He it was who 
built the great temple of Ammon at Luxor and the colossi 
of Memnon. Besides these marked individual instances, 
there is the fact that the Egyptian race itself in general had 
a considerable element of Negro blood, and one of the prime 
reasons why no civihzation of the type of that of the Nile 
arose in other parts of the continent, if such a thing were at 
all possible, was that Egypt acted as a sort of channel by 
which the genius of Negroland was drafted off into the 
service of Mediterranean and Asiatic culture. In this 
sense Egyptian civilization may be said, in some respects, 
to be of Negro origin. Among the Semitic peoples whose 
civilizations were so numerous and so ancient on the shores 
of the Mediterranean and throughout western Asia, the 
Negro, as in Egypt, made his influence felt, from the lowest 
to the highest walks of Ufe, sometimes as a slave, sometimes 
as the freest of citizens. As cup-bearer, or confidential 
adviser, he stood next to kings and princes and as faithful 
eunuch he enhanced and extended the power of the other 
sex in lands where custom confined them to the four walls 
of their dwellings or restricted to the utmost their appear- 
ance and their actions in public. And women from Ethi- 
opia, "black but comely," wives of favorite slaves of satraps 
and of kings, often were the real rulers of Oriental provinces 
and empires. Nor have the Negroes in these Asiatic 
countries been absent from the ranks of the musician and 
the poet, from the time of Solomon to that of Haroun al 
Raschid and beyond in the days of Emirs and Sultans. 
One must not forget the Queen of Sheba, with her dash of 
Negro blood, said, together with that of the great Solomon, 
to have been inherited by the sovereigns of Abyssinia. 
When under the brilliant dynasty of the Ommiades (661- 
750 A.D.), the city of Damascus was one of the glories of 
the world, its galaxy of five renowned poets included Nos- 
seyeb, the Negro. And we can cross the whole of Asia 
and find the Negro again, for, when, in far-off Japan, the 
ancestors of the modern Japanese were making their way 
northward against the Ainu, the aborigines of that country. 


the leader of their armies was Sakanouye Tamuramaro, 
a famous general and a Negro. 

Passing down European history, we find traces of the 
Negro in many high places. In France, during the reign 
of Louis XVI, we meet with the Chevalier Sainte-Georges, 
knighted by that monarch. Later on, the mulatto, Lislet 
Geoffroy, a corresponding member of the French Academy. 
In 1874, the doors of the Institut de France opened wide to 
Alexandre Dumas (fils), whose great-grandmother was a 
pure-bred Haitian Negress. Her grandson was also a 
distinguished man of letters. 

Among the favorites of Peter the Great and his famous 
consort Catharine, was an Abyssinian Negro educated in 
France, to whom was attached the name of Hannivalov, 
who became a general and received other honors from the 
Russian government. He married the daughter of a Greek 
merchant, and his son became a general of artillery, who 
built the harbor and fortress of Cherson. The grandson 
of Hannivalov was A. S. Pushkin (1799-183.7) perhaps the 
greatest of all Russian poets. 

In Spain, where, besides, some diluted Negro blood came 
in with the Moors, we find a remarkable remembrancer of 
the black man in the field of art. In one of the churches of 
Seville are to be seen four beautiful pictures (Christ bound 
to a column, with St. Peter kneeling at his side; St. Joseph; 
St. Anne; Madonna and Child), the work of the mulatto, 
Sebastian Gomez, the slave, then the pupil, the companion 
and the equal of his master, the great painter Murillo, who 
had him made a free citizen of Spain, and at his death (1682), 
left him part of his estate. And, in their voyages and travels 
the Spaniards in the New World had the services of the 
Negro. The first man to reach the land of the Seven Cities 
of Cibola, and open the Southwest of what is now the United 
States of America, was the Negro Estevancillo; and the ves- 
sel of Captain Arellano (1564-1565), the first to make the 
return voyage across the Pacific from the East Indies to 
Mexico was steered by a mulatto pilot. 

In our own day and generation, after one white man had 
gregiously tricked the world with his tale of Polar dis- 


covery, we must confess to not a little satisfaction that the 
account of the next one of our race, who claimed to have 
reached the top of the earth, was corroborated by the word 
of the black man who saw him do it. 


Now let us turn more particularly to achievements of 
race en masse. In comparing the achievements of the 
African Negroes with those of the European and Asiatic 
whites, it must be remembered that the latter have had con- 
tinously the advantage of the best possible environment in 
the world, and the former as continuously the disadvantage 
of the worst. In other words, the whites have been notably 
bonused by nature at the start, and the number and char- 
acter of historical experiences which they must inevitably 
have undergone, quite regardless of their intellectual or 
other endowments, have been entirely in their favor. 

The tremendous effect of a favorable environment is seen 
in the history of the white race in the region of the Med- 
iterranean. Europe, Asia and Africa have furnished there 
examples of culture of a high grade in which all varieties of 
the so-called Caucasian type seem to have participated. 
Indeed, any people, sufficiently numerous to have estabUshed 
somewhat large fixed communities, was reasonably sure of 
being an important member of the Mediterranean series of 
great cities, kingdoms, empires, etc., and of being remem- 
bered for something of value in the civilization which the 
world has inherited from the nations of the Mediterranean 
past and present. From prehistoric times to our own day 
and generation, one race only, the Negro, by reason, pro- 
bably, of being cut off by desert or sea, during a long period 
of its existence, and, therefore secluded in Africa beyond 
the "thin line" of the white race on the north, seems never 
to have intruded into the Mediterranean area (or to have 
settled there in any locality) in sufficiently large numbers 
to have undergone the same historical experience, and to 
have submitted to the same genial influences of environment 
so stimulating to the other races, which, in that region. 


reached so remarkable a stage of social, political, religious 
and intellectual evolution. Out of the coming and going of 
peoples in the Mediterranean area, from the necessities of 
intercommunication among its innumerable centers of cul- 
ture, arose things, which the more or less monotonous and 
secluded African land-areas seemed not to suggest or to 
demand. Thus the appearance of the alphabet was as 
natural in the Mediterranean region at a comparatively 
early period, as it was improbable and unexpected in pre- 
historic Negroland. So, too, the very same phenomena 
permitted an earUer disappearance from white civilization 
of many ideas and institutions, the retention of which 
among the African Negroes is more a natural result of their 
seclusion than an index of their intelligence. Such causes 
and factors of the retardation of Negro culture as slavery, 
polygamy, the belief in witchcraft, etc., are among these. 
Here, again, we must be just in our denunciation of these 
evils. Our own escape from the institution of slavery is still too 
recent to make us very honest boasters (and less than ten 
years ago we gave it a new lease of life under our flag in the 
Sulu Islands). The vagaries of mental healing in twentieth 
century America but too often suggest something quite 
like the ideas of the uncivilized African. And, are we quite 
sure that the honest simultaneous polygamy of Nigeria is so 
much less moral than the dishonest successive polygamy that 
coruscates from Reno, Nevada? 

Political and Social Oegani?ation 

That some of the Negro peoples of Africa possess actual 
genius for social and political organization has been demon- 
strated again and again, particularly in the Sudan (both 
before and after Arab influence), and among the Bantu peo- 
ples further to the South. An opinion long held in certain 
quarters that these developments of Negro civilization were 
entirely due to the Arab and Mohammedan influences of 
the period beginning with about 750 A.D., and to earlier 
Egyptian and Semitic contacts, can no longer be sustained. 
That there has been at the bottom of them a basis of real 


Negro culture is now apparent from the archeological and 
ethnological researches of German, French and English 
investigators in the Sahara, the Sudan and West Africa. 
What a few travellers at the closeof the Middle Ages reported 
they had seen has now been confirmed by unimpeachable 
evidence. "Negro culture" is now no more to be denied 
than the existence of the Pigmies, which once rested almost 
solely on the statements of Herodotus. The very recent 
investigations and studies of Desplagnes, von Luschan, 
Frobenius, Weule, etc., are adding more and more to the 
culture phenomena, which the Negroes may be said them- 
selves to have originated, or having borrowed from other 
peoples, to have skilfully adapted or improved for their 
own uses. Back of the stone figures of Sherbro, the mega- 
liths of the Gambia, the bronzes of Benin, and other little 
known aspects of West African art and architecture, as well 
as behind the organized political developments in the Sudan, 
etc., lie things that are not easily to be explained as merely 
waifs from Egypt or later unintentional gifts from the white 
race. Here, again, the view may open wide and far. Fro- 
benius, who believes that a Negro culture of a rather high 
type, once existed in West Africa, christens it "Atlantic," 
and is inclined to think that the Egyptian and Mediter- 
ranean legends immortaUzed in the "Atlantis" of Plato may 
have had a very real foundation in distorted accounts or 
forgotten memories of this African culture, which some day 
may have its Odyssey corroborated as Schliemann did for 
Troy. And West Africa is the real Negro country from 
which so many of the slave ancestors of the Afro-Americans 
were stolen away. Liberia, too, lies in this land, and her 
hopes of the future ought to be touched by some reflection 
from this great past. 

Long before the Mohanamedan advent, kings and empires 
existed in Negro Africa. It seems, too, that, subsequently, 
when the first rush of Arab contact was over, the pure Negro 
element again came into control in many cases and carried 
on indigenous culture, with the skilful adaptation of foreign 
elements, to still higher stages of development. The com- 
parison of Negro Africa with contemporary Medieval Europe 


is most interesting and convincing here. The sociological 
and political phenonaena in both regions of the globe at that 
time are strikingly similar. Parallels for the feudal system, 
the rise and development of the judiciary, the evolution of 
international law, the r61e of the market and the fair, and 
many other things could as well be studied in the one as in 
the other. The rise of innumerable small states and their 
ultimate consolidation into large kingdoms and extensive 
empires are equally characteristic of both. Negro Africa, 
too, at this period, and since then also, has in like manner 
produced kings and political organizers, who have been men 
of genius possessing great personalities, and ranking in 
character and ability with the princes and sovereigns of 
Europe at the time. Such, e. g., were the men who ruled 
the great kingdoms and empires of the Sudan, some of which 
lasted down to the middle of the 19th century, when the 
European mass-contact with this part of the Dark Continent 
practically began. If anyone really wants to know (to 
use the words of Dr. F. Boas), "what the Negro has done in 
Africa," let him look into the history of the Negro kingdoms 
of Ghana and Songhai, the Empire of Lunda, Bornu, the 
Kingdom of Katsena, etc. Let him read of the great cities 
with Negro Africa, such as Engornu (in Bornu) and Tim- 
buktu, etc., with their from 30,000 to 50,000 inhabitants; 
Kana in Haussa-land, etc. Barth, the German traveler, who 
visited this part of Negro Africa in 1851-1855, has left on 
record his impressions of its civilization and of the men who 
created and sustained it. Men like King Askia of Son- 
ghai and Bello, the Sultan of Katsena, who has been called 
"the Napoleon of the Sudan" deserve rank among the great 
figures of the world's history. They are the undeniable 
proof that the Negro race is thoroughly human in its ability 
to produce men of genius. In personal character, in admin- 
istrative ability, in devotion to the welfare of his subjects, 
in open-mindedness towards foreign influences, and in 
wisdom in the adoption of non-Negro ideas and institutions. 
King Askia, who ruled over Songhai in the early part of the 
16th century, was certainly the equal of the average Euro- 
pean monarchs of the time and the superior of many of them. 


Among the Bantu peoples of South Africa {e.g., the Zulus, 
etc.), great capacity for survival by means of pohtical and 
social organization has been shown in some cases and also 
considerable advance toward the ultimate creation of a 
Christian Negro nation at some time in the future. One 
of the Bantu peoples, the Ovampo, has already proceeded so 
far along the road to self-government, after our own ideas, 
that it has got rid of its old line of hereditary kings and set 
up a sort of republic. 

Commerce, etc. 

At the period of early contact with the whites, the great 
skill and finesse of the African Negroes in matters of trade 
were constantly in evidence and became a thing to be de- 
scribed epigrammatically in proverbs, one of which ran to 
the effect that a Negro could beat a Jew or an Armenian. 
And in the chronicles of the period of European advance, we 
meet frequently the question, what will happen "if the blacks 
got full possession of our culture," seeing they can already 
outdo us with their own? It has been said epigrammat- 
ically on this point that "the African's weakness is not in 
getting wealth, but in keeping it." The institution of the 
market and the fair, e.g., among the Negro peoples of the 
Sudan and the development out of it of the village, the town 
and the city, are one of the most interesting phenomena in all 
the history of human culture. Among the questions involved 
in the evolution of the market and the fair are : the greater 
share of women in public and semi-public activities; the 
breaking down of the narrowness of mere tribal boundaries 
and clan-instincts, consequent upon the gathering together 
of so many people at repeated intervals; the movement 
toward abolition of war through the institution of the mar- 
ket-peace and the prohibition of all hostile acts during the 
time of prevalence of fairs, markets, etc.; the amalgama- 
tion of peoples resulting from the ultimately permanent 
character of these markets and fairs, and the absorption of 
those conducting them more or less into the general popula- 
tion by the consolidation of the temporary city without the 


walls with the old city within them; the influence upon the 
general honesty and morality of the community of the in- 
creasing importance of the right of asylum, the protection 
of the stranger within and without the gates, the necessity 
of honest weights and measures; the autonomy of the market, 
the market-tax with its corollary of protection or free-trade; 
the question of the laborer and his hire; the market-holiday 
and its relations to religious and other festivals and cere- 
monial occasions, etc. Indeed, as one looks over the long 
hst of questions here at issue, one sees that practically no 
question that is at present a matter of discussion among 
ourselves, or has been such in the progress of our civiliza- 
tion, can be mentioned, which has not been involved in the 
commercial and the economic development of Negro Africa. 

Domesticated Animals 

Africa is undoubtedly the home of the wild ancestors of 
several species of domestic animals and likewise the continent 
which saw the first shaping of some of them under the hands of 
man. And it is quite reasonable to suppose that in certain 
cases the beginnings of such domestication are to be traced 
to the Negro peoples, whose achievements in this field were 
added to and given wide extension by the Egyptians, espec- 
ially, and by the races of other lineage who took part in the 
civilizations of the Mediterranean and of Western Asia. 
Cattle-keeping and cattle-breeding is an art ancient and now 
widespread in Negro Africa. With some tribes cattle have 
entered into the economic and the ideal life of the people as 
has the horse, or the sheep, with certain Semitic and Aryan 
nations, and, as with them, given a distinct color and tone 
to language and literature. The skill attained by some of 
the Bantu tribes in the maintenance and the utilization of 
domestic cattle is remarkable. Cattle-milking, an accom- 
plishment, which is far from being universally human, either 
in the individual or in the race, is old in parts of Negro land. 
And here, it is worth noting that a civilization as ancient and 
as important as that of China has not yet been added to 
its common factors of economic survival the dairy and its 


attendant developments. And the same might be said of the 
younger civilization of the Japanese, as it could also have 
been said of more than one of the ancient civilizations of 
the Occident, whose range of culture did not include the 
employment of the milk of the cow in human economy. 
The milk-using Africans would have stood high in the clas- 
sification of Lippert, the German culture-historian who 
maintained, though quite mistakenly, that the use of the 
milk of domestic animals was the sine qua non of qualifica- 
tion for the higher reaches of human civilization. But some 
of the black Africans have done more than drink milk fresh 
from the cow. The Hereros, e.g., who well illustrate the 
development if individuaUty from a basis of pastoral cul- 
ture, as Deh^rain informs us, "live upon sour milk," having 
thus anticipated the ideas of Metchnikof, the Russian biol- 
ogist and author of a theory of longevity. Perhaps, if they 
had first heard of its virtues from the Hereros, our patriotic 
American Negrophobes might have declined to have any- 
thing whatever to do with it. And maybe the Herero die- 
tarians are justified in ascribing to their favorite food the 
strength and the skill exhibited by them in their revolt a 
few years ago against the German authorities in South-West 
Africa. In the field of the domestication of animals and their 
utilization in human economics the Negro has done enough 
to entitle him to both the gratitude and the admiration of 
mankind. Indeed, some have gone so far as to maintain 
with A. von Frantzius, who in 1878 discussed this topic in 
the Archiv fiir Anthropologie, that Africa was the original 
home of the cow and the Negro its domesticator. Whether 
this be true or not, it is certain that the black man is well 
qualified to have been such. 

Art, etc. 

Far from possessing no art, the African Negroes have created 
some of the most beautiful art-objects to be found in any 
museum in the wide world. We have not yet, as Dr. Boas 
has pointed out, in this country a museum to illustrate fully 
and adequately the art of the native Africans, but in sev- 


eral of the European museums, these are admirably, if not 
exhaustively, represented. Dr. Frobenius, in his study 
of African civihzations, says: "The real African need by no 
means resort to the rags and tatters of bygone European 
splendor. He has precious ornaments of his own, of ivory 
and feathers, fine plaited willow-ware, weapons of superior 
workmanship. Nothing more beautiful, for instance, can 
be imagined than an iron club carefully wound round with 
strips of metal, the handle covered with snake-skin." And 
Dr. Boas has recently called attention to the "dainty bas- 
ketry" of the Congo and the Nile Lakes, the "grass mats of 
most beautiful patterns" made by some of the Negro tribes, 
and "the beautiful iron weapons of Central Africa, which 
excel in symmetry of form, and many of which bear elabo- 
rate designs inlaid in copper, and are of admirable workman- 
ship." The famous bronzes of Benin, about which there has 
recently been so much discussion, have, perhaps, been 
stimulated in form and in the figures designed by Portuguese 
and Hindu art, but they "are far superior in technique to 
any European work (Boas)," and their existence indicates 
an artistic past for certain regions of West Africa hitherto 
quite unsuspected. 

Musical Instruments, etc. 

While the question of our musical instruments is as yet 
far from being satisfactorily settled, it would be strange 
indeed if so musical race as the African Negroes had had 
nothing to do with their origin or their development. Negro 
Africa possesses many varieties of drums, and of stringed 
instruments akin to the harp and the violin, etc. Indeed all 
stages necessary for the development of the harp from the 
simplest form to the instrument as we find it among the 
ancient Egyptians previous to its dispersal over Asia and 
Europe are to be met with on African soil, and the attribu- 
tion of its invention to some Negro people is quite reason- 
able, on the evidence in hand. And the same thing, with 
somewhat less certainty, perhaps, may be said of the violin. 
In the characteristically African marimba, or xylophone, we 


may have the beginnings of the piano and closely related 
musical instruments, in which case, one of its names, "the 
Negro piano " assumes a new significance. The "pot drum ' ' 
so-called, and perhaps another variety or two of that instru- 
ment, originated also in Negro Africa. The goura of cer- 
tain South African peoples is a curious musical instrument 
which still awaits adoption or modification by civilized man. 

Iron-Smelting, etc. 

The ars artium, however, of Negro Africa is the use of 
iron. The question of the origin of the art of iron-smelting 
is now being treated in detail by ethnologists, apd, while 
general agreement has not been reached, the mass of evi- 
dence so far disclosed, has convinced eminent men of science 
like Boas and von Luschan that the smelting of iron was 
first discovered by the African Negroes, from whom, by 
way of Egypt and Asia Minor, this art made its way into 
Europe and the rest of the Old World. Among the argu- 
ments in favor of this view are the fact that, at the time of 
the contact of the African Negroes with white men for the 
first time, iron-smelting was common and widespread among 
them, the work of the smith having almost everywhere 
reached a somewhat high degree of perfection; the evidence 
in the hieroglyphic records and elsewhere in ancient Egypt 
of the derivation of iron from the south at a comparatively 
late stage of civilization; and the comparative lateness also 
of its appearance in the ancient cultures of Asia, the Med- 
iterranean region and Northern and Occidental Europe. 
It should check our racial pride a little to consider the pos- 
sibility, perhaps, rather, the certainty, that "at a time when 
our own ancestors still utilized stone implements or, at 
best, when bronze implements were first introduced, the 
negro had developed the art of smelting iron," and that 
"his race has contributed more than any other to the early 
development of the iron industry" (Boas). And, when we 
remember all that the discovery and utilization of iron has 
meant for human civifization, it should bring the blush to 
shame to our cheeks to learn from the public prints that, 


when the great iron-master of Pittsburg, the foremost 
of American philanthropists, visited the city of Atlanta, 
Ga., to see the result of his labors, he was ostentatiously 
shown all over one library over whose threshold no Negro 
may ever pass, while his hosts in their automobile hurried 
him by the door of the other his money had erected "for 
black men only." 


The achievements of individual Negros, taken from Africa 
in childhood and educated in lands where the Negro was 
looked upon as a man like the rest is another source of val- 
uable information on our subject. In illustration of the 
point at issue the following cases may be cited : 

Miguel Kapranzine. In 1631 the Portuguese finally 
established as chief of the Kalanga, a Bantu tribe, of South- 
east Africa, a native convert, who, a few years before, had 
been proclaimed by the army and the Dominican mission- 
aries ,"Manuza, Emperor of Monomotapa." The Christian 
forces were completely successful in a great battle, and among 
the captives taken was the young son of Kapranzine, really 
the rightful claimant to the throne. This boy was sent to 
Goa, technically a prisoner, and handed over to the Dom- 
inicans of that city to be educated at the expense of the 
crown. He was baptized by the name of Miguel, became 
a member of the order of the Dominicans, devoted himself 
arduously and successfully to study, and won fame as one 
of the greatest preachers in Portuguese India. In 1670, 
when he was still in the prime of life, the General of the 
Dominican Order conferred upon him the degree of Master in 
Theology, which would correspond to our D.D. When he 
died, he held the position of Vicar of the convent of Santa 
Barbara in Goa. As Mr. Theal, the historian of South 
Africa, observes, "fiction surely has no stranger story than 
his." From a Kaffir kraal to high office in the religious 
life of a city, of which the saying went, "If you have seen 
Goa, you do not need to see Lisbon!" 


J. E. J. Captein. The story of Jacques Elisa Jean Cap- 
tein is certainly one of the most interesting in all the long 
annals of human education. When only seven years of 
age, he was taken from his home on the Andreas River, in 
Western Africa, by a slave-trader, who presented him to a 
friend. This man, when he returned to Holland, brought 
the Negro boy with him, had him baptized as a Christian, 
and made arrangements for his education in the best manner 
of the times. Young Captein proved an excellent scholar, 
and soon obtained a good knowledge of Latin, Greek, 
Hebrew and Chaldean. At the University of Leyden he 
studied theology, obtaining his degree there, in that faculty, 
in 1742. Afterwards he went as missionary to Elmina 
in Guinea, a settlement which since 1637, had been in pos- 
session of the Dutch. The title of his thesis is worth quot- 
ing in full: Dissertatio politico-theologica de servitute liber- 
tati christianae non contraria, quam sub praes. J. van den 
Honert, puhl. disput. subj. J. E. J. Captein, afer. Lugd. Bat. 
1742. This thesis, in which slavery is defended as not con- 
trary to Christian liberty is said to be learned and skilful 
even for the days in which it was written. Captein also 
wrote a Latin elegy on the death of the Rev. Mr. Manger of 
The Hague, his friend and instructor. He was likewise the 
author of an appeal to the heathen to accept Christianity, 
and of a volume of sermons in Dutch, delivered by him at 
different times in various cities of the country. 

A. W. Amo. Even more remarkable was the career 
of a native of Axim on the Gold Coast, West Africa, known 
as Anton Wilhelm Amo. When quite young, he was 
brought as a slave in 1707 to Amsterdam, and was soon 
afterwards presented by Duke Anton Ulrich von Braun- 
schweig to his son, August Wilhelm, who provided for 
his education in generous fashion. He attended both 
the Universities of Halle and Wittenberg. At Halle, he 
took his degree of Doctor of Philosophy, with a dissertation, 
De jure Maurorum, which is praised in the programme by 
the Dean of the Philosophical Faculty in these words: 
Excussis tarn veterum quam novorum placitis, optima quaeque 
selegit, selecta enucliate ac dilucide interpretatus est. He was 


also spoken of as "vir nobilissimus et clarissimus." After 
taking his degree, he seems to have qualified as a University 
lecturer, or professor, and to have delivered regular courses. 
The title of his Inaugural Address at Wittenberg is as fol- 
lows: Dissertatio inauguralis philosophica de humanae men- 
tis APATHIA, seu sensionis vel facultatis sentiendi in mente 
humana absentia, et earum in corpore nostra organico ac vivo 
praesentia, quam praes. etc. publ. def. autor Ant. Guil. Amo, 
Guinea- Afer, phil. etc. Mag. Wittenbergae 1734. It is inter- 
esting that this Negro should have chosen "Apathy" as 
the subject of his discourse. He was also the author of 
other philosophical treatises in Latin. Like Captein, Amo 
was noted for his linguistic attainments. He is said to have 
been able to speak Dutch, German, Latin, Greek, and 
Hebrew, and was certainly able to write several of these 
tongues. The Prussian government of the time conferred 
upon him the high honor of "Geheim-Rat," something over 
and above his merely scholastic achievements. The death 
of his benefactor, the Duke of Brunswick, seems to have 
affected him deeply, and, after some thirty years' residence 
in Europe, he returned to his home in Africa. There he 
found that his father and sister were still alive. Amo him- 
self was still living there in isolation in 1753, when he was 
visited by Dr. D. H. Gallaudat. Here, again, from a Negro 
hut on the Gold Coast to a degree from one German Uni- 
versity and a position in the Faculty of another, and the 
title of "Excellency" from the Government of the country 
that was soon to dominate all Central Europe, is a career 
almost incredible. No wonder Gr^goire, in his mono- 
graph in defence of the Negro, published at the beginning of 
the nineteenth century, and the German anatomist, Tiede- 
mann, in his work on the brain of the Negro (1837), cited 
the cases of Captein and Amo as settling the question of 
the intellectual capacity of the black man. 

Negroes at the Universities of Portugal and Spain. The 
history of Angola under the rule of the Portuguese shows that 
many Negroes from that part of Africa studied successfully 
at Coimbra. It may not be out of place to mention here 
also the fact that among the distinguished graduates of 


this ancient institution of learning is to be counted A. C. G. 
Crespo (1846-1883) poet and man of letters, with both an 
American and a European reputation, and at one time a 
member of the Portuguese Chamber of Deputies. His 
father was a white man, his mother a black slave in Brazil. 
The University of Seville in Spain is said to have had at one 
time a Negro as a member of its Faculty, viz., Don Juan 
Latino, a noted Professor of Latin. It is probable that a 
complete record of the activities of the Universities of Latin 
Europe would reveal other interesting instances of the par- 
ticipation of Negroes in the academic world. 

Adjai Crowther. In 1812 there was born at Uchugu, in 
the Yoruba country of West Africa, a boy named Adjai, 
whose life is significant for the interpretation of Negro 
capacities and achievements. At the age of seven, he was 
carried off by slave traders, passing from hand to hand until 
1822, when he was rescued by the Captain of a British 
frigate, and given over for the purposes of education, to the 
missionary authorities at Bathurst, the chief place of Gambia, 
then a part of the colony of Sierra Leone. After three 
years' study, he became a Christian, adding to his native 
appellation of Adjai, the name of Samuel Crowther, a 
clergyman of the Anglican Church. He was afterwards 
connected with the mission school at Regent's Town and 
the Fourah Bay College. He also served in Nigeria, and 
was with the first Niger Expedition in 1841. In 1842 he 
went to England, and, having studied a year at the Church 
Missionary College at Islington, was ordained a clergyman of 
the Anglican Church by the Bishop (Blomfield) of London. 
Returning to Africa, he labored among his own people at 
Abbeokuta, etc. He took part in the second and third 
Niger Expeditions of 1854 and 1857, and, from this time on, 
contributed much to our knowledge of the geography and 
the philology of West Africa. While on another visit in 
1864 to England, he was consecrated Bishop of the Niger 
Territory and, when he returned to the scene of his mission- 
ary labors, he gathered round him a corps of native assis- 
tants and continued active until his death, which occurred, 
in 1891. Besides being remembered as a missionary and 


teacher, Bishop Crowther deserves fame as an explorer and 
geographer, and also as a philologist. The journal of his 
Niger explorations contains some of the first reliable infor- 
mation concerning the peoples of that region, and, in 1879, 
the Royal Geographical Society of London, on the motion 
of Dr. R. N. Gust, voted him a gold watch for his services 
to geographical science. In 1881 he made a linguistic 
map of the Niger Region, which was used to good advantage 
by Mr. Gust in the preparation of his monograph on The 
Modern Languages of Africa. It is to Bishop Growther that 
we owe the first knowledge of the existence of some of the 
numerous languages and dialects of this region of West 
Africa. He is the author of several religious tracts, school- 
books, etc., and also of a translation of the Bible and the 
Prayer-Book in the Yoruba language, his mother-tongue. 
In 1882 he again visited England, being received with the 
honors due him. To have read a paper before a distin- 
guished audience, under the auspices of the Royal Geo- 
graphical Society, was a great distinction for one who had 
been a slave in far-off West Africa. To receive the degree 
of D.D. from the famous University of Oxford was one still 
greater. Many of the details of this man's remarkable life 
may be read in. his autobiography, published at London, in 
1888, under the title of the Slave hoy who became Bishop. 
Dr. Gust does not hesitate to say that he was "fully the 
equal of the European in intellect," and his achievements 
surely lifted him far above the average. The same thing 
might be said also of some of his colleagues and co-adjutors, 
such, e.g., as Archdeacon Johnson, etc. 

The cases of individuals like Miguel Kapranzine, Gaptein, 
Amo and Growther show what had been accomplished when 
the Negro has been treated as a man, even when the things 
to be done, and the criteria of judgment concerning their 
accomplishment and value belong not to his own, but to 
our race. Such things as these, together with the facts to 
be won from the study of Negro culture in Africa itself, and 
with the undoubted evidence of progress displayed by the 
Negro in America since the days of slavery, prove alike the 


generically human endowment of the black race and its 
capacity for specific culture-development. 


We have now passed in review the contribution of the 
Negro to the general stock of the world's culture, individually 
and racially, and it must be admitted by all that his share in 
it is as thoroughly human as has been that of any other branch 
of mankind. When one sums up his gifts to the common 
stock, through his toil as a slave in many lands, through the 
mixed races of Northern and Eastern Africa in their contact 
with the Semites and the Aryans, and the claim his blood 
has upon some of the great men of civilized Europe, and 
adds to this the toll of his achievements as a race in the 
African home-land and in the New World of America, one 
can find no reason for excluding him from an important 
role in the future development of mankind. 

Mankind is one; there is but one human race. The orig- 
inal unity of human beginnings has been lost in the spreading 
of man all over the face of the earth. But the time for 
emphasizing the differences thus developed, or rather thus 
acquired, is past. The day of the specially and the self- 
ishly racial is disappearing, to be succeeded by the era of 
the generically and altruistically human, in the highest and 
noblest sense. The way of redintegration is already begin- 
ning to be trod. The future of the Negro is the future of all 
other numerous and culture-bearing races of the world, 
ultimate absorption into that re-unified humanity, with 
whose advent, evolution, properly so called, will really 
begin. He has the same right to lose the ephemerally racial 
in the eternally-human, that the brown man, the red man, 
the yellow man, and the white man have, no more and no 
less. There shall, indeed, come a time when there will be 
no question of race, and when the loose threads of evolution 
will be gathered together into one skein of infinite beauty and 
loveliness. Such things must be. The ideal of the world's 
hopes is not the domination of so-called "lower" races by 
the "higher," not the "new nationalism," or the "old im- 


perialism," but the humaaity that was intended in the be- 
ginning and shall be in the end. For the selfish race, our 
own, no less than others, there waits some divine transform- 
ation, such as the poet saw for the individual when he told 

"Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords 

with might; 
Smote the chord of Self, that, ti-embling, passed in music out of 

The divine artist who is to make music out of the present 
discord of the races of men, may seem to linger, but his 
coming is sure. Let us prepare to welcome him! 

Note. lor other material along the lines of argument 
here presented the reader may be referred to the following: 

Barth, H. Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa, 
being a Journal of an Expedition undertaken under the 
Auspices of H. B. M.'s Government in the Years 1849- 
1855. London, 1857-1858. 5 vols. Also German edi- 
tion (Gotha 1857-1859, 5 vols.), and condensed German 
edition (Gotha, 1859-1860, 2 vols.). 

Barth, H. The Minerva Library of Famous Books. Edited by 
G. T. Bettany, M.A., B.Sc. Travels and Discoveries 
in North and Central Africa. Including Accounts of 
Tripoli, the Sahara, the Remarkable Kingdom of Bornu, 
and the Countries around Lake Chad. By Henry Barth, 
Ph.D., D.C.L. . , London, 1890, pp. xxxii, 608. 

Boas, F. The Anthropological Position of the Negro. Van Nor- 
den Mag., April, 1907. vol. ii, pp. 40-47. 

Boas, F. Human Faculty as Determined by Race. Proc. Amer. 
Assoc. Advt. Sci., vol. xliii, 1894, pp. 301-327. Also 
Reprint, pp. 27. 

Boas, F. What the Negro has done in Africa. Ethical Record, 
(N. Y.), vol. V, 1904, pp. 106-109. 

Boas, F. The Negro and the Demands of Modern Life. Ethnic 
and Anatomical Considerations. Charities (N. Y.), vol. 
XV, 1905, pp. 85-88. 

Boas, F. Commencement Address at Atlanta University, May 
31, 1806. Old African Civilization. Atlanta University 
Leaflet, no. 19, Atlanta, Ga., 1906. Pp. 15. 

Boas, F. Industries of the African Negroes. Southern Workman 
(Hampton, Va.), vol. xxxviii, 1909, pp. 217-229. 

Chamberlain, A. F. African and American: The Contact of 
the Negro and the Indian. Science (N. Y.), vol. xvii, 
1860, pp. 85-eO. 


Chamberlain, A. F. The Negro Question in Africa and America. 
The Voice (Chicago), vol. iv, 1907, pp. 104-108. 

Chamberlain, A. F. Scientific Notes on the Negro. Ibid., 
pp. 202-203. 

Chatblain, H. Some causes of the Retardation of African Pro- 
gress. Journ. Amer. Folk-Lore, vol. viii, 1895, pp. 177- 

Reinach, p. S. Negro Race and European Civilization. Amer. 
J. Soc. vol. xi, 1905, pp. 145-167. 

Wright, R. R. Negro Companions of Spanish Explorers. Amer. 
Anthrop. vol. iv, N. S., 1902, pp. 217-228.